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A film based on the play Gandhi Versus Gandhi
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
A film based on the play "Gandhi Versus Gandhi", depicting the turbulent relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his son Harilal, has run into rough weather with the filming rights coming under dispute.
Filmmaker Joy Augustine, who was launched as a director by ABCL in the Chandrachur Singh-Arshad Warsi-Priya Gill starrer "Tere Mere Sapne" nearly 10 years ago, had acquired the filming rights from Gujarati author Dinkar Joshi.
However, Augustine had a setback when he learnt that Anil Kapoor planned to produce "Gandhi Versus Gandhi" with Feroz Khan, who had directed the play as well.
"I've just finished my script and am in the process of casting. Now I suddenly hear Anil Kapoor plans to produce the film," Augustine said.
"How can they do this? It's not theirs to film! The copyright for the film and the play are with my company Janvi Entertainment Pvt Ltd."
He said he had served a caveat to both Kapoor and Khan.
Augustine said he had approached Shekhar Kapur to sort out the matter.
"But what solution? When I first met Feroz I was introduced to him by the author Dinkar Joshi as the guy who was going to direct the film version. I am on, no matter how many hurdles are put in my way," asserts Augustine.
Augustine claims to have bought the copyright of the original document in June 2003 and had asked Naseeruddin Shah, who plays Gandhi in the stage version, to direct the play.
"I told Naseer to direct the play and that I'd direct the film. That's where it stands now. Feroz Khan isn't even associated with the play any longer," he claims.
"At this stage of my career when making "Gandhi Versus Gandhi" is a do-or-die endeavour for me, I can't afford this sort of a hurdle," Augustine said. "I could die without making the film. But I won't let anyone else make it. It's my baby entirely."
However, Kapoor denies there was any copyright violation.
"We aren't filming the play by Feroz Gandhi. What we're filming is the authentic biography by a well-known Gandhian scholar called Chandulal Dalal published in 1977 by the Sabarmati Trust," Kapoor said.
He said all the facts in Dinkar Joshi's novel and play "Gandhi Versus Gandhi" had been taken from Dalal's book.
"Even Dinkar Joshi has accepted that. I have bought the rights of Chandulal Dalal's book," Kapoor said.
But he said he had not yet decided on whether to make the film.
"Right now I'm totally focussed on my acting career. When Joy Augustine sent us a caveat, we replied back. And he hasn't replied to us. We're still waiting."
This is not the first time that Augustine has had to take legal recourse to stop others from filming Dinkar Joshi's acclaimed novel.
A year back Yashraj Films and Bobby Bedi had also signed Khan to direct the film version of "Gandhi Versus Gandhi". But they backed out of the project after Augustine served a caveat, the director claims.